The Flaming Heart or the Life of the Glorious S. Teresa

by Richard Crashaw

Original Language English

The flaming Heart. Upon the booke and picture of Teresa. As she is usually expressed with a Seraphim beside her

Well meaning Readers! you that come as Friends,
And catch the pretious name this piece pretends,
Make not so much hast to admire
That faire cheek't fallacie of fire.
That is a Seraphim they say,
And this the great Teresia.
Readers, be rul'd by me, and make,
Here a well plac't, and wise mistake.
You must transpose the picture quite,
And spell it wrong to reade it right;
Read Him for Her, and Her for Him,
And call the Saint, the Seraphim.
Painter, what dids't thou understand
To put her dart into his Hand?
See, even the yeares, and size of Him,
Shew this the Mother Seraphim.
This is the Mistresse Flame; and duteous hee
Her happier fire-works, here, comes down to see.
O most poore spirited of men!
Had thy cold Pencill kist her Pen
Thou coulds't not so unkindly err
To shew us this faint shade of Her.
Why man, this speakes pure mortall frame,
And mocks with Femall Frost Love's manly flame.
One would suspect thou mean'st to paint,
Some weake, inferior, Woman Saint.
But had thy pale-fac't purple tooke
Fire from the burning Cheekes of that bright booke,
Thou would'st on her have heap't up all
That could be form'd Seraphicall.
What e're this youth of fire wore faire,
Rosie Fingers, Radiant Haire,
Glowing cheekes, and glistring wings,
All those, faire and flagrant things,
But before All, that fierie Dart,
Had fill'd the Hand of this great Heart.
Do then as equall Right requires,
Since his the blushes be, and hers the fires,
Resume and rectifie they rude designe,
Undresse thy Seraphim into mine.
Redeeme this injury of thy art,
Give him the veyle, give her the Dart.
Give him the veyle, that he may cover,
The red cheekes of a rivall'd Lover;
Asham'd that our world now can show
Nests of new Seraphims here below.
Give her the dart, for it is she
(Faire youth) shoot's both thy shafts and thee.
Say, all ye wise and well pierc't Hearts
That live, and dye amids't Her darts,
What is't your tast-full spirits doe prove
In that rare Life of her, and Love?
Say and beare witnesse. Sends she not,
A Seraphim at every shot?
What Magazins of imortall armes there shine!
Heav'ns great ARtillery in each Love-spun-line.
Give then the Dart to Her, who gives the Flame;
Give Him the veyle, who kindly takes the shame.
     But if it be the frequent Fate
     Of worst faults to be Fortunate;
     If all's prescription; and proud wrong,
     Hearkens not to an humble song;
     For all the Gallantry of Him,
     Give me the suff'ring Seraphim.
     His be the bravery of all those Bright things,
     The glowing cheekes, the glittering wings,
     The Rosie hand, the Radiant Deart,
     Leave her alone the flaming-Heart.
     Leave her that, and thou shalt leave her,
     Not one loose shaft, but loves whole quiver.
     For in Love's field was never found,
     A nobler Weapon than a wound.
     Love's Passives, are the activ'st part,
     The wounded is the wounding-heart.
     O heart! the equall Poise, of Love's both Parts,
     Big alike with wounds and Darts,
Live in thes conquering leaves; live all the same,
And walke through all tongues one triumphant flame.
Live here great heart; and Love, and dye, and kill,
And bleed, and wound, and yield, and conquer still.
Let this imortall Life, where e'er it comes,
Walke in a crowd of Loves, and Martyrdomes.
Let Mystick Deaths waite on't; and wise soules bee,
The love-slaine-witnesses, of the life of Thee.
O sweet incendiary! shew here thy art,
Upon this carcasse of a heard, cold, hart,
Let all thy scatter'd shafts of light, that play
Among the leaves of thy larg Books of day,
Combin'd against this Brest at once break in
And take away from me my self & sin,
This gratious Robbery shall thy bounty be;
And my best fortunes such fair spoiles of me.
O thou undanted daughter of desires!
By all thy dowr of Lights & Fires;
By all the eagle in thee, all the dove;
By all thy lives & deaths of love;
By thy larg draughts of intellectuall day,
And by thy thirsts of love more large then they;
By all thy brim-fill-d Bowles of feirce desire
By thy last Morning's draught of liquid fire;
By the full kingdome of that finall kisse
That seiz'd thy parting Soul, & seal'd thee his;
By all the heav'ns thou hast in him
(Fair sister of the Seraphim!)
By all of Him we have in Thee;
Leave nothing of my Self in me.
Let me so read thy life, that I
Untall all life of mine may dy.

-- from Teresa of Avila: The Progress of a Soul, by Cathleen Medwick

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Recommended Books: Richard Crashaw

Poetry for the Spirit: Poems of Universal Wisdom and Beauty The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse Metaphysical Poetry: (Penguin Classics) Teresa of Avila: The Progress of a Soul Metaphysical Poetry: An Anthology (Dover Thrift Edition)

The Flaming Heart